The female image in magazines: analysis of stereotypes, diversity and inclusivity in publicity and reporting related to fashion brands

Ana Tórtola Moret, Mª Pilar Paricio Esteban, María Puchalt López

The female image in magazines: analysis of stereotypes, diversity and inclusivity in publicity and reporting related to fashion brands

ICONO 14, Revista de comunicación y tecnologías emergentes, vol. 21, no. 1, 2023

Asociación científica ICONO 14

La imagen femenina en las revistas: análisis de estereotipos, diversidad e inclusividad en la publicidad e información de las marcas de moda

A imagem feminina nas revistas: Análise de estereótipos, diversidade e inclusão na publicidade e informação das marcas de moda

Ana Tórtola Moret *

Universidad Cardenal Herrera-CEU, CEU Universities, Valencia, Spain

Mª Pilar Paricio Esteban **

Universidad Cardenal Herrera-CEU, CEU Universities, Valencia, Spain

María Puchalt López **

Universidad Cardenal Herrera-CEU, CEU Universities, Valencia, Spain

Received: 15/september /2022

Revised: 15/october /2022

Accepted: 27/december /2022

Published: 11/february /2023

Abstract: The fashion sector exhibits its collections and garments on female bodies which act as props and mouthpieces for society through the use of the media, mainly women’s magazines. In this sense, publicity has used the female body for decades as a marketing lure and, although change driven by the demands of new generations can be seen, the majority of models used contribute to feeding an inaccurate image of women, reinforcing stereotypes and strengthening certain canons of beauty. The aim of this study is based on female diversity and inclusivity in advertising and the approach in reporting on fashion brands in specialised magazines, reinforcing stereotypes and promoting certain canons of beauty. For this purpose, a categorical content analysis of 216 units of analysis with 15 variables was carried out. The analysis of the results shows the lack of real commitment to diversity and inclusivity in advertising and the reporting approach of fashion brands in the magazines.

Keywords: Women; Stereotypes; Fashion Brands; Women’s magazine; Diversity; Inclusivity.

Resumen: El sector de la moda presenta sus colecciones y artículos a través de cuerpos femeninos que actúan como soporte y altavoz para la sociedad mediante el uso de los medios de comunicación, principalmente las revistas femeninas. En este sentido, la publicidad ha utilizado el cuerpo femenino durante décadas como un reclamo comercial y, aunque se observa una evolución impulsada por las demandas de las nuevas generaciones, se sigue utilizando de forma mayoritaria modelos que contribuyen a alimentar una imagen inexacta de la mujer, reforzando estereotipos y potenciando ciertos cánones de belleza. El objeto de estudio de la presente investigación se basa en la diversidad e inclusividad femenina en la publicidad y el tratamiento informativo de las marcas de moda en las revistas especializadas. Para ello se ha realizado un análisis de contenido de tipo categorial de 216 unidades de análisis con 15 variables. El análisis de los resultados muestra la falta de un compromiso real con la diversidad y la inclusividad en la publicidad y el tratamiento informativo de las marcas de moda en las revistas.

Palabras clave: Mujer; Estereotipos; Marcas de moda; Revistas femeninas; Diversidad; Inclusividad.

Resumo: O setor de moda apresenta suas coleções e artigos por meio de corpos femininos que atuam como suporte e porta-voz da sociedade por meio da mídia, principalmente revistas femininas. Nesse sentido, a publicidade utiliza o corpo feminino há décadas como reivindicação comercial e, embora se observe uma evolução impulsionada pelas demandas das novas gerações, modelos que contribuem para alimentar uma imagem imprecisa da mulher continuam sendo utilizados em sua maioria, reforçando estereótipos e promovendo certos cânones de beleza. O objeto de estudo desta pesquisa se baseia na diversidade e inclusão da mulher na publicidade e no tratamento informativo das marcas de moda em revistas especializadas. Para isso, foi realizada uma análise categórica de conteúdo de 216 unidades de análise com 15 variáveis. A análise dos resultados mostra a falta de um real compromisso com a diversidade e inclusão no tratamento publicitário e informativo das marcas de moda nas revistas.

Palavras-chave: Mulher; Estereótipos; Marcas de moda; Revistas femininas; Diversidade; Inclusão.

1. Introduction

Fashion has the potential to influence society and beyond selling clothing, it portrays styles and models of life with which we can identify (Díaz-Soloaga, 2014).

Diversity and inclusion are two terms which have become established in social and academic discourse over the last decade. Zeynep et al. (2022), speaking on diversity, refer to the physical and sociocultural differences attributed to people. On the other hand, Herbst (2020) comments that self-image may also influence the conception of diversity, with the media playing a key role. Along these lines, Tsichla (2020) indicates that the messages in the media are generally directed at homogenous groups which do not encourage diversity, thus strengthening the stereotypes applied to sociocultural minorities (Doncel-de-la-Colina y Segoviano-García, 2014).

Different authors (Ramos-Villanelo, 2019; Monreal-Gimeno et al., 2019) define stereotypes as archetypes that underpin interpersonal relationships and tend to exclude and discriminate against all female and male canons that deviate from the established, favouring neither diversity nor social inclusion.

On the other hand, Reddy-Best et al. (2018) define inclusion as the creation and development of a culture that encourages the feeling of belonging and the incorporation of diverse groups. However, as Darretxe-Urrutxi (2018) points out, this conceptualisation can vary depending on the region, as people display attitudes and behaviour on stereotypes and inclusion depending on the social reality that surrounds them (McGlone and Pfiester, 2015).

The aim of study of this research is based on female diversity and inclusivity in advertising and the approach in reporting on fashion brands in specialised magazines.

This topic is being prioritised by the fashion sector (Guichard, 2019), in line with the demands of the new generations who are calling for a more plural fashion, where all people have a place regardless of their size, age, religion, disability, etc. (Del-Olmo-Arriaga et al., 2018) Both consumers and brands are joining the shift away from exclusionary female stereotypes as the only form of beauty (Cáceres-Zapatero and Díaz-Soloaga, 2008; Lai and Perminiene, 2020).

In addition, in recent years the topic has formed part of the media agenda, linked to the challenging of the presence of unreal beauty standards, and generating criticism of fashion brands’ publicity (García-de-Blas, 2013).

In the last decade this aspect has been the object of scientific debate linked to beauty prototypes and female stereotypes portrayed (Cabrera-García-Ochoa, 2010; Ruiz-de-Gauna, 2015; Gómez-de-Travesedo-Rojas and Almansa-Martínez, 2018; Reddy-Best et al., 2018). However, studies which address fashion brands’ publicity and the reporting approach in women's magazines specialised in fashion focused on the analysis of diversity and inclusivity.

2. Woman, media, women’s magazines, advertising and fashion publicity

As Terán-Villegas and Aguilar-Castro (2018) state, the influence of the media on public opinion is extensive, shaping a large part of social construct. Media, in addition to amplifying messages, shapes opinion, as pointed out by theories of media effects such as agenda setting or framing (McCombs and Shaw, 1972). The media, and specifically advertising as a socialising agent, replicates social values and roles.

Women’s magazines in Spain mainly discuss topics related to beauty and fashion (Gómez-de-Travesedo-Rojas y Almansa-Martínez, 2018), making them an extremely influential medium that determines the perspective of many women (Del-Olmo-Arriaga et al., 2018).

Luxury women's magazines, commonly known as fashion magazines, are one of the preferred mediums for advertisements of the sector’s brands due to their unique characteristics and capacity to segment the audience (Díaz-Soloaga, 2014). They have become the first-choice means to generate publicity (Martínez-Navarro, 2017) which creates prominence, but above all credibility and prestige for fashion brands, through the management of public relations with stylists, journalists and other public influencers.

As well as reporting approach used, publicity reflects social reality and at the same time, determines how we should live our life (Osuna-Rodríguez, 2011, p. 195). In this respect, advertising in women’s magazines serves to emphasise or stereotype beauty ideals wrapped in fashion brands (Pérez-Serrano and Romero-Calamache, 2010; Kuipers et al., 2017; Shabangu et al., 2022).

The observation of female stereotypes in advertising allows for the discovery of which roles society associates with a particular gender (Zotos and Landreth-Grau, 2016; Matthes et al., 2016; Luque-Ortiz and Pérez-Curiel, 2018) and evolution in aspects such as inclusivity and diversity (Eisend, 2010).

The fashion industry tends to exhibit its collections and garments on female bodies which act as props. (Díaz-Soloaga et al., 2010). For decades, advertising has used the female body as a marketing lure and, although an evolution can be observed, it continues to show models that contribute to feeding an inaccurate image of women, reinforcing stereotypes and promoting certain canons of beauty (Treviños-Rodríguez and Díaz-Soloaga, 2021; Kozlowski et al, 2022), and the main message behind beauty advertising campaigns was that women should buy products that would help them to homogenise themselves by becoming increasingly similar to this ideal, which is so lacking in diversity (López-Miguel et al., 2021, p. 57).

In recent years, different spheres have been calling for diversity and female empowerment in the face of certain traditional stereotypes of the modern, sensual, fragile, submissive, hedonistic, transgressive and/or traditional woman (Díaz-Soloaga, 2007); as indicated by Messias-Shinoda et al. (2021), the lack of diversity of women in the media may present an obstacle to their well-being.

Similarly, fashion brands cannot remain aloof, as Laso-Carapeto (2017) points out, presenting a new vision of female beauty through new, more natural, models, bringing it to their advertising and reporting.

To do so, organisations in the fashion industry must incorporate these values in their philosophy as part of their corporate social responsibility, projecting them in their publications to connect with their stakeholders and generate shared values.

3. Diversity and inclusivity in the fashion sector

Pressure from groups such as Fashion Revolution and Ethical Consumer, demanding greater transparency and more ethical conduct have contributed to the sector undergoing a transformation in which environmental impact is just one of the challenges to be faced, alongside the protection of human rights and greater commitment in terms of solidarity, diversity, inclusivity and integration (Del-Olmo-Arriaga et. al, 2018).

For this reason, some studies note the need for greater internal responsibility in the sector. In this regard, the study by Lago-Fernández (2019) refers to internal CSR commitments to be assumed, such as the promotion of diversity policies, and for external groups, such as social welfare.

As Saulquin (1999) and Seidman (2007) indicate, the concept of sustainability expands its dimensions, encompassing a social dimension along with respect for the environment. The ethical and philanthropic dimensions of CSR in fashion companies are shown through programmes of social actions aimed at local communities through projects based in areas such as education, health, reducing inequalities, integration and inclusive fashion (Del-Olmo-Arriaga et al., 2018).

The sectors of fashion and beauty have been on the receiving end of accusations of the lack of diversity in relation to age, body and beauty prototypes proposed by promoting through their fashion shows and actions a single valid canon of slim, beautiful, successful and young women. (Pérez-Lugo et al., 2016; Vaca-Torres et al., 2020).

Prior studies highlight the commitment of the publicity in these sectors to unrealistic models of women verging on physical perfection (Vega-Saldaña et al., 2019), it being necessary to improve the media approach in order to achieve normalisation in questions related to inclusion (Vázquez-Barrio et al., 2021).

In addition, Vicente-Fernández and Arroyo-Almáraz (2021) note that, based on indicators of age and body composition, the current beauty ideal presented in display advertising through women’s press shows a young model who wears a size equal to or less than a 36 (UK size 8). On the other hand, some authors (Díaz-Soloaga and Muñiz-Muriel, 2011; Blanco-Fernández et al., 2019), underscore the predominance of a female prototype who is white, ignoring that there are other types of beauty in the world (Martínez-Oña and Muñoz-Muñoz, 2015).

In light of this, in the environment of social action, some fashion organisations and brands work to achieve a plural concept of fashion in which everyone feels included (ITFashion, 2016), in response to the voices of younger generations (Generation Y and Z) who demand fashion suitable for all (González-Soriano, 2017; Martín-Critikián et al., 2022). At root, initiatives committed to diversity of body type stand out, with the inclusion of the ‘curvy’ phenomenon and a vindicating media in which it is enhanced (Paricio-Esteban, 2021).

Some fashion brands are working on plurality and integration from the perspective of gender, suggesting movements such as the genderless movement (Pinto-Luna and Franca-Barros, 2019), the use of models and women over 50 in campaigns, shows and presentations (Vidal-Beros 2022) and the inclusion of people with illnesses or disabilities, as it is what society demands of fashion, given the great influence of the sector (Ameal-Baldonedo, 2021). These initiatives can be seen reflected in a change in the publications of fashion brands, making this plurality visible. (Winterhalter, 2019)

4. Hypothesis and aims

This research uses the following question as a start point: Do fashion brands project diversity and inclusivity in their publicity in women’s magazines? To answer this, two hypotheses are put forward as a starting point:

  1. H1. Given the social demand in recent years for a more plural fashion by Generations Y and Z in the fashion and beauty sectors, a commitment to diversity and inclusivity in the advertising of fashion brands in women's magazines is presupposed.

  2. H2: A greater commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in the approach in reporting of fashion brands in women's magazines, in which a commitment to a more realistic image of women is presupposed.

Below, the main aims of the research are given:

  1. To address the role of the media and advertising in the publicity of fashion brands in women’s magazines, reviewing the background in the study of female stereotypes presented.

  2. To discover the implications of diversity and inclusivity in the social action of the fashion sector.

  3. To evaluate the representation of diversity and inclusivity related to female stereotypes proposed in fashion advertising in women's magazines.

  4. Discover the way in which diversity is dealt with in the reporting approach of fashion brands in magazines and the female stereotypes that are promoted.

5. Methodology

A categorical content analysis (Bardin, 1991) was carried out for the objective and systematic analysis (Berelson, 1952) of the diversity and inclusivity of fashion brands in women's magazines, with particular attention to display advertising and reporting style.

Firstly, a sample of specialised women's fashion publications in the Spanish market was selected, taking into account: the evolution of circulation and the reach (AIMC, 2022), and the number of readers (Orús, 2022). In addition, specialisation was taken into account by selecting high-end women's press specialising in fashion and beauty (Menéndez-Menéndez, 2013) and differentiation in terms of target audience was also considered.

Based on the established criteria, a convenience sample was selected: Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Telva and Vogue.

Secondly, the period of analysis was January to March 2022, as it has been observed in recent years that, in the first quarter, there is an increase in readership compared to other months (AIMC, 2022). Afterwards, publicity and reporting on fashion brands was screened, selecting only those publications in which female characters related to the research objectives appeared. In addition, only the reporting and advertising related to fashion clothing and accessories was considered as a unit of analysis, as these are the traditional areas of the sector.

Finally, the body of research was formed of 216 units of analysis: 79 were classified as display advertising from 38 fashion brands y 137 as reporting. The brands found were: Mango, H&M, El Corte Inglés, Lola Casademunt, Vogue, Simorra, Nike, Sirolé, Guess, Marina Rinaldi, Zalando, Louis Vuitton, Ermano Scervino, Fendi, Zadig&Voltaire, Chanel, Dior, Dolce&Gabbana, Prada, Emporio Armani, Versace, Etro, Max Mara, IFEMA, Isabel Marant, Dsquared2, Furla, Kocca, Miu Miu, Valentino, Michael Kors, Loewe, Blumarine, Iro, Levi´s, Slowlove, Blauer, Skechers.

Based on previous studies, together some of our own work, a codebook has been designed identifying 15 variables and 58 categories (table 1).

Table 1
Research codebook
Research codebook

Source: own work

A data sheet was then drawn up which, in addition to the variables described above, included identification variables: for advertisements (name of the magazine, page/s on which it appears, location and brand) and for appearing article/reports (name of the magazine, date, issue number, title of the publication, author, page/s where it appears and genre). The sample was then analysed.

6. Results

6.1. Results of display advertising of fashion brands in women’s magazines

A total of 79 advertisements were found in the graphical format in the 5 magazines analysed, 39.3% of which were in Vogue, 24.1% in Elle, 22.8% in Telva, 10.1% in Glamour and 3.7% in Cosmopolitan.

With regard to the brands advertised, the presence of Vogue (11.4%), Guess (7.6%), Dior (5%), Louis Vuitton (5%) and Fendi (5%) stands out.

6.1.1. Diversity, race, hair and age in fashion advertising in women’s magazines

73% of the adverts (58 images) feature Caucasian women, 30% Black, 11% Asian and 3.8% other races.

In terms of hair type and colour, 58.2% of the images contained brunette hair, 31.6% chestnut hair, 26.6% blonde, 17.7% red and there were no women with grey or white hair.

44.3% of the brands analysed show women with long and medium-length hair in their advertisements, 37.9% with short hair and just 1.2% with shaved hair.

In terms of hair type, straight and wavy hair predominates (45.5% both), followed by women with curly hair (13.6%) and just 7.6% afro hair.

In relation to age, the majority of women were young (62%) In addition, many brands also chose to include adult women (from 30 to 65 years) in 44.3% of images and 2.5% of adverts showed women over 65 years of age. There were no adolescents or minors under 14.

6.1.2. Body stereotypes in fashion advertisements in women's magazines

The analysis of body type indicated the predominance of slim women (83.5%) and 8.8% were extremely slim. Only 6.3% featured a medium body type and 3.7% a large body type. In addition, 91.1% of women displayed a normal body type, 7.5% poor and just 1.2% athletic type.

On the other hand, 92.4% of the brands opted for women with clothing sizes less than or equal to a size 36 (UK 8), 6.3% with women of sizes 38 and 40 (UK 10 and 12) and just 3.8% with sizes 42 and 44 (UK 14 and 16), no size equal to or greater than size 46 (UK 18) was found.

With regard to the height of the featured people, just 16.4% of the adverts showed women who measured less than 1.7m, there were no women who measured equal to or less than 1.47m (dwarfism)

6.1.3. The body in fashion advertisements in women's magazines

In 56.9% of cases the whole body was shown, the face appeared in 94.9% of adverts and only in 3.7% was a body shown without a face. Hands appear in 70.8% of cases, followed by the bust (46.8%), legs (37.9%) and belly (22.7%). On the other hand, all the images showed the women fully clothed.

Most of the female faces and bodies depicted showed no imperfections (83.5%), with only 17.7% of the advertisements showing imperfections such as acne, wrinkles, blemishes, freckles, scars, stretch marks and/or cellulite.

6.1.4. Other aspects related to diversity, inclusivity and disability in fashion advertising in women’s magazines.

None of the advertisements analysed showed either pregnant or transexual women.

On the other hand, 68.3% of the advertisements featured women from an upper social class, 31.6% middle class and 2.5% low social class.

With regard to the analysis of inclusivity in fashion advertising in magazines, no images were found with women with any type of disability.

6.2. Results of the treatment of women in fashion brands’ reporting in women’s magazines

Of the 137 units of reports/articles analysed, 27.7% were in Vogue magazine, 26.3% in Elle, 20.4% in Telva, 15.3% in Glamour and 10.2% in Cosmopolitan.

6.2.1. Diversity, race, hair and age in fashion brands’ reporting in women’s magazines

In brands’ reporting White women predominate (86.8%), followed by Black women (24%), Asian women (8%) and others (6.5%).

The hair analysis showed a greater presence of brunette women, (57,6%), followed by blonde (37.2%) and chestnut (32.8%). Redheaded women only appeared in 7.2% of cases and women with grey or white hair in 1.4%.

On the other hand, a greater presence of short hair was found, at (47,4%) and medium length (46,7%). This is followed by women with long hair (37.2%) and 5.1% of the women in the reporting had shaved hair. In addition, 8.7% of the reporting represented women with afro hair and just 7.2% with curly hair.

In terms of the age, the largest presence was of young women (72.2%), followed by adults up to 65 years old (38.6%) In just 2.1% appeared women over 65 years old, and there were no minors under 14.

6.2.2. Body stereotypes in fashion brands’ reporting in women’s magazines

In terms of body type, 93.4% of the women depicted in reporting were slim and only 9.4% were extremely slim. In 8.7% there were women of medium build, and in 2.9% those of large build. No reporting was found on women with of extremely large build.

All units of analysis showed women with normal physical build, 5.1% also showed people with poor physical build and 0.7% showed athletic build.

The research demonstrated that the brands prefer to showcase women who wear a small size, between size 34 and 36 (92.7%) (UK 6 and 8) In 10.9% of the texts, women between size 38 and 40 (UK 10 and 12) were perceived, and only 3.6% showed people between size 42 and 44 (UK 14 and 16). In 0.7% of cases the women shown wore a size greater than 46 (UK 18).

On the other hand, there was a predilection for tall women (85.4%) and only 24% of the female figures were less than 1.70 m tall. No women under 1.47 metres (dwarfism) were found.

6.2.3. The body in fashion brands’ reporting in women’s magazines

In the majority of reporting the entire body was shown (84.6%) The part of the body most often shown is the face (97.8%), followed by the hands (89.7%). In more than half of the cases, the legs (52.5%) and the bust (50.3%) were shown, followed by the belly (34.3%) and other parts of the body (23.3%). Just 4.3% or articles showed a body without a face. On the other hand, in 98.5% of reporting the women appeared fully clothed.

In addition, in 83.9% neither the faces nor the bodies showed imperfections, and only in 23.3% of cases were there women with wrinkles, age spots and/or freckles.

6.2.4. Other aspects related to diversity, inclusivity and disability in fashion brands’ reporting in women’s magazines.

In the analysis, there were no pregnant women and 0.7% were transexual women.

On the other hand, upper class women predominated (91.9%), followed by middle class (25.5%), with low class women being the minority at (0.7%).

In the inclusivity analysis, no reporting including women with any kind of disability was found.

7. Conclusions and discussion

Firstly, based on the research carried out, the results contradict analyses such as that of García de Blas (2013), which alludes to how the media agenda questions the presence of unrealistic beauty models with criticisms of the publications of fashion brands, demanding change in the sector. It also contrasts with the editorial content of women’s magazines themselves (Continente, 2017) which highlight that the presence of different types of women is gaining ground in fashion advertising campaigns as a reflection of a plural society.

Moreover, it is comparable with several studies (Cáceres-Zapatero and Díaz-Soloaga, 2008; Del-Olmo-Arriaga et al., 2018; Guichard, 2019) that point to a demand from new consumers for greater diversity and plurality in fashion publications, with the sector also prioritising change.

In this sense, studies such as that of Bernaschina (2022) and Lai and Perminiene (2020) call for a change in advertising and publicity that is more pluralistic and inclusive (which has not been fully observed in the research carried out), with models that promote non-normative beauty to contribute to the visibility of other races, diseases and disabilities, thus projecting diversity, racial equality and inclusivity.

Secondly, the main conclusions of the research in relation to the aims of the study are presented. With regards to aim 1, which was to address the role of the media and that of advertising in fashion brands’ publicity in women's magazines, it is concluded that:

  1. Fashion, the media, and publicity are influential as socialising agents, portraying social values and lifestyles.

  2. Women’s magazines are a highly influential medium which determines the perspective of many women as they are the form of media prioritised by fashion brands due to their ability for audience segmentation, content care and prescriptive power.

  3. Through the revision of previous studies of models of beauty and female stereotypes in fashion magazines, it is concluded that they offered a limited representation of women, physically associated to a Caucasian woman, slim, and flawlessly and unrealistically beautiful.

In relation to aim 2, where the aim was to find out the implications of diversity and inclusivity in the fashion sector, it was concluded that:

  1. The social dimension of CSR has become a priority for organisations in the fashion sector.

  2. In recent years, commitments to diversity and inclusiveness have been framed in the field of social action, in a sector accused of a lack of diversity that has projected unrealistic models of beauty and a lack of plurality based on age, race, size and other gender-related aspects.

  3. The main initiatives to achieve a more plural fashion, as a response to the demands of generation Y and Z, are articulated around the curvy phenomenon, genderless fashion and the visibility of age diversity in campaigns and presentations.

With regards to aim 3, which aimed to evaluate the representation of diversity and inclusivity related to female stereotypes proposed in fashion advertising in women's magazines, it was concluded that:

  1. From the perspective of race, little diversity is portrayed, with the stereotype of Caucasian or White women with brunette or blonde hair predominating, thus aligning the results with previous studies (Díaz-Soloaga and Muñiz-Muriel, 2011; Vaca-Torres et al., 2020). However, an advance related to the presence of Black women is observed, in line with the study carried out by The Fashion Spot (2018). However, although the percentage of Black women has grown, they appear with more typically Caucasian hair instead of the afro or curly hair linked to Black people.

  2. In relation to the age of the female models, although there is a greater presence of young women, coinciding with studies in the women's press focused on beauty (Vicente-Fernández and Arroyo-Almaraz, 2021), sharing the limelight with adult women under 65 (which would denote a certain diversity); a limited vision continues to be offered, as the portrayal of women over 65 is almost nil, going against the trend noted in the media agenda of the growth in demand for older models in fashion advertising (Legasa, 2020; Weinstock, 2022).

  3. There is a majority portrayal of a prototype of a slim and tall woman, from which we can infer a lack of commitment in fashion brands' advertising to body diversity. These data do not align with studies such as that of Del-Olmo-Arriaga et al. (2018) which echoed the sector's heightened sensitivity to the curvy phenomenon.

  4. Fashion advertising is committed to models without imperfections, showing puritanical attitudes towards nudity; thus aligning itself with Vega-Saldaña et al. (2019) who highlighted the dominant presence of unrealistic women on the verge of physical perfection. However, the research contradicts the trend noted by Laso-Carapeto (2017) of a greater commitment to a more natural and diverse view of female beauty.

  5. Other aspects that allow us to conclude the lack of a clear commitment to diversity in the advertising of fashion brands are the majority representation of upper class women or the lack of visibility of transsexuality, physical or intellectual disability.

With regard to aim 4, which set out to find out how diversity is dealt with in the reporting of fashion brands in magazines and the female stereotypes that are promoted, it was concluded that:

  1. In the fashion reporting, diversity is not projected from a racial perspective, with a predominance of white or Caucasian women and brunettes; the data is similar to the advertising analysis. There is a decrease in the presence of black women compared to the treatment in advertising.

  2. The age analysis shows a greater diversity compared to the advertising analysis, increasing the percentage of adult women and women over 65, but not enough to be considered consistent with editorial content that in recent years refers to the ‘granny’ trend (Mérida, 2015).

  3. There is a lack of diversity in the female body prototype projected by fashion brands in women's magazines, with a predominance of slim (size 36 or below) and very tall women. However, compared to the advertising analysis, there is a slight increase in the visibility of large models (women of size 46 and over).

  4. The body parts most often shown are the body and the face, but the diversity increases compared to the analysis of fashion advertising in magazines by giving greater visibility to women with wrinkles or age spots (this could be related to the greater presence of older women or women over 65 years of age). In this sense, although the prototype of unreal beauty continues to be dominant, there is a greater sensitivity towards other more natural and real models, thus coinciding with the proposal of the study by Laso-Carapeto (2017).

  5. Other aspects that allow us to conclude the lack of diversity in the information on fashion brands in women's magazines are: the majority representation of upper class women being greater than in advertising, the lack of pregnant women and the low appearance of transsexuality.

  6. Inclusivity is not an aspect considered in the journalistic and advertising reporting on fashion brands in women's magazines, with no visibility of women with physical or intellectual disabilities.

Finally, based on the conclusions of the study, the initial hypotheses are validated or refuted. With regard to the first hypothesis, where it was established that, based on the social demand in recent years for a more plural fashion by Generations Y and Z in the fashion and beauty sectors, a commitment to diversity and inclusivity in the advertising of fashion brands in women's magazines is presupposed, it is refuted by finding a dominant prototype of young, slim, White women without imperfections (observed in previous research), finding only a positive evolution in the greater visibility of Black women.

In relation to the second hypothesis, which presupposed a greater commitment to diversity and inclusivity in the reporting approach of fashion brands in women's magazines, in favour of a more realistic image of women, in coherence with the media agenda dedicated in recent years to these aspects, the hypothesis would also be refuted in general terms, although progress has been made in terms of racial diversity (more Black women, but in smaller proportions than in the advertising analysis), visibility of adult women and women over 65, and more realistic faces and bodies (with some imperfections), although the same excluding prototype of young, white, slim, tall women who are close to physical perfection, projected as the only form of beauty, is still dominant.

For all these reasons and in relation to the research question, no real commitment to diversity and inclusivity was found in the advertising and reporting approach of fashion brands in magazines. However, progress has been observed compared to previous studies in relation to racial diversity, age and physical perfection (to a greater extent in the information provided by fashion brands), but less progress has been found in terms of body prototypes and inclusivity, which are necessary to create a more plural fashion where all people feel integrated, contributing to generating a more inclusive society that respects diversity.

Authors’ contribution

Ana Tórtola Moret: Conceptualization, Formal Analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Visualization, Writing- original draft, and Writing- review and editing. Mª Pilar Paricio-Esteban: Conceptualization, Formal Analysis, Methodology, Supervision, Writing- original draft, and Writing- review and editing. María Puchalt-López: Conceptualization, Formal Analysis, Methodology, Writing- original draft, and Writing- review and editing. All authors have read and accepted the published version of the manuscript. Conflict of interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Project for Consolidated Research Groups, Ref. AICO/2021/212, from GVA; Knowledge Generation Project 2021, Ref. PID2021-124969NB-I00, of the MICINN.


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Author notes

* Graduated in Advertising and Public Relations

** Professor in the Department of Audiovisual Communication and Advertising

Additional information

Translation to English : Altalingua, S.L.

To cite this article : Tórtola Moret, Ana; Paricio Esteban, Mª Pilar; & Puchalt López, María. (2023). The female image in magazines: analysis of stereotypes, diversity and inclusivity in publicity and reporting related to fashion brands. ICONO 14. Scientific Journal of Communication and Emerging Technologies, 21(1).

Cómo citar
ISO 690-2
ICONO 14, Revista de comunicación y tecnologías emergentes

ISSN: 1697-8293

Vol. 21

Num. 1

Año. 2023

The female image in magazines: analysis of stereotypes, diversity and inclusivity in publicity and reporting related to fashion brands

Ana Tórtola Moret 1, Mª Pilar Paricio Esteban 1, María Puchalt López 1